.What if This is Enough? My New Book is Out.

Cover painting by Judith Lockett

Ladies and Gentlemen,

can I please have your attention for this public service announcement: MY SECOND BOOK HAS BEEN PUBLISHED. The title: What if This is Enough? Essays. I love the title and the cover because it just works really well together.

What my second book is about: 

Like my first book, I have written essays on my life in general, about simplifying, about being a mother, about creating that like I am passionate about, inspirations, (mental) health and being a better version of myself. More focus is placed on my life before, during and after divorce. With this book I wanted to cover many aspects of (my) life but also share personal tips how to stay sane through a divorce.

What I hope to achieve with my book is that you get comfortable, enjoy a glass of wine, send your kids out with your partners and read my book in silence and peace. I hope my book will transfer you into a relaxed, though-provoking or inspirational mode and make you reflect and most importantly think. Publishing a book for a writer is a dream come true. Being an avid reader, publishing books was on my bucket list for a long time. It is a great feeling to stroll through bookstores and show my son the books I have written on the shelf. #shelfie

I really want to thank my family, friends, blog readers and the support I have gotten to make this happen. I will have a book signing coming up in Germany and Vienna at independent bookstores. Announcements and dates will be shared on this website. Honestly, I am still totally overwhelmed in the best way possible right now. Today,  I just spent the day with my family and friends celebrating in style.

.Liars.

Are you able to be in a relationship with a chronic liar? Short answer: No. Absolutely not. But then again, this sounds so judgemental, closed-minded, or maybe even absolutely right. So I will say: probably not.

I grew up an inherently trusting child and teenager but later on in my life I befriended people with almost every personality disorder there is. The narcissistic, liars, nihilists, psychopaths, schizophrenics, especially paranoid men, etc. all glued to me as if I were free ice cream. I would like to think it was because I was naturally void of judgment. I used to accept others for who they were, regardless of negative tendencies without endorsing change. But ultimately, I know now that it was just naivety and toxicity. Choosing to accept or ignore something negative does not make it void, it just makes me really good at being an accomplice. So in my 20s, I forgave others, and in my 30s, I spent time forgiving myself.

I think over time, it is more than healthy to have self-reflection in any capacity and to simply examine my choices so history does not repeat itself. With that being said, I have given up defending myself a long time ago, mostly because my opinion does not have to suit anyone’s needs but my own.

Now, I would like to note that most people are liars, inherently so. I don’t mean to sound pessimistic, it is just that many don’t realize that some small things they say are actually lies. A culture shock for me was when I first arrived in New York and people asked me how I am. I would tell them how I am in every detail and wondered why nobody is interested. Saying you are fine when your emotions are as emo as a teenager whose parents just told him he cannot go to the latest comic-con, is also a lie. But, these aren’t’ the types of lies that are up for debate here. It is the chronic liars, the toxic ones when you actually question everything they say because of their strong allergy to being truthful. Examples would be when someone tells you they have a 164 IQ or killed 15 people with their bare arms.

With this being said, and while the honesty-challenged population may be on the outs, I am not so closed-minded to assume lies are all toxic. Delicate liars for example who are so naive as Snow White and best known for singing with animals, eating strangers’ poisoned apples, and trying to spare my feelings at all cost are the most unwitting liars. Then, of course, there are the social liars who buy a big expensive car for example because they think this is a status symbol because only “the rich” can afford it. Those are the same people who spend summers on the moon, winters in Iceland, and hang out in Morocco in between. They are investing in property somewhere while buying a pilot leather jacket and the cool pilot glasses and even think about purchasing a property with a landing strip because one day they will have a fucking small plane to land it on. Those are my favorite liars. Those who think they have bajillion dollars but use ten credit cards instead.

Then there are the occasional liars, who lie from necessity or opportunity to look good for whatever reason. We are all human, I get it. And while lies may originate from boredom, protection, self-hate, self-love, all of the above or none of the above, it just sucks even though it initially may not come from an intentional negative space.

Friendship and lies. Webster dictionary defines, a friend as 1.) a person who has a strong liking for and trust in another person. 2.) a person who is not an enemy friend or foe. The second part of the definition is merely an antonym (thank you Webster), and the first part holds a little more weight. I think that you can have a strong liking for a person, sure, but without trust can it really be a friendship? I know someone who faked being happy in a marriage for months and cheated on his wife while having pretend fights with her and pretend make-ups. He faked love and everything else, too. Well, she faked several pregnancies for the sake of continuity (?) and to keep him. Lies about almost everything.

Some people need lies as a form of escapism or self-esteem. I do not want to call it regret, even though it is doing a fine job masking itself as such. I wish I would have called it out from the beginning and every point than on but I did not. There are just a lot of toxic personalities out there and I like the feeling that some people in my life have not won with their perpetuating, unhealthy, sick behavior.

Ultimately, if a person constantly tells lies they probably have established chronic tendencies naturally. Then I begin to question if they are even lying when they are telling the truth. By definition, this is not a healthy relationship or friendship because you are simply an audience; a spectator at a performance. I feel Nietsche said it best, “I am not upset that you lied to me, I am upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”

.Spend your Life keeping the Garbage Out.

The wonderful Grace Farris

Is it just me or does it feel like advice is given everywhere? We get bombarded with unsolicited, desperate requests from books we read, shows we watch, people we choose to surround ourselves with and the list goes on. One thing is for sure: everyone has some advice to give. But, just because it is there, does not always mean it is good, no? At the end of the day, we like to believe that advice is all about experience and one person sharing their downfalls, big wins or everything in between in hopes of someone else’s situation ending differently. If your heart is in the right place to receive advice it is usually something beneficial and beautiful to be taken away instead of an annoying feeling like shooing away a mosquito. Since everybody does it and this is my blog and creative outlet I would like to share some good advice that I received and is helpful in my life. Maybe there is something for you to take away, too. Also, check out this post.

Someone told me that changing your mind is the cheapest form of therapy.

This someone also told me that: You are too smart to be with certain men.

Here is a random picture for entertainment purposes. Do you like it? Nope? It doesn’t impress me either.

Some guy putting gas in his car.

If you have the feeling that your partner is too arrogant, smokes too much weed, is too full of themselves, and extremely paranoid trust your gut and run away as fast as you can. It doesn’t matter what a person tells you, it’s their actions that prove who they really are. Don’t base your trust and expectations on people’s words. Ever.

I was born empathetic; maybe too empathetic. I always had a shoulder, an ear, a heart for anyone and everyone. I listened and didn’t judge, giving without ever expecting anything in return. This worked for decades, and somehow I was this happy, everlasting altruist. The thing is: when you accept the role to take on negativity, it takes its toll after a while. In moments, when I needed peace, others didn’t put me first because they had been used to me putting myself second. This is when I taught myself to protect my peace. Sounds simple enough, but it’s leading my mission in life now. I have learned the beauty of saying no, of choosing what I let affect me and knowing that it is my responsibility to put me first because I am the only me I will ever have. And, by way of ‘protecting my peace’, I have let go of some friendships, ended relationships, and quit jobs.

You are doing the best you can. Sometimes this little reminder puts things in perspective when I am being too hard on myself of feel like I could be doing more to change a situation. In reality, I am simply doing the best I can in a challenging time. No more, no less.

Keep doing the right things and you will get the results. This one is so important when you try to achieve something challenging and it takes longer than you expected to get to your goal. If I keep doing what works, consistently, eventually I will get the results.

Don’t try to read what people think. Simply ask.

Don’t get married. Totally unnecessary.

No iPad Air mini 2 with wifi and SIM card is ever necessary to communicate with someone you love.

Need to make a tough decision? Trust your gut. If you ever find yourself in a place where you cannot hear it then sit in silence and write a list of pros and cons until the answer becomes so obvious that you cannot ignore it. Take time with yourself and make sure that your mind and body are always connected. This is the most important relationship.

The obvious: Never drink alcohol on an empty stomach; wear sun protection every singe day, and never go to bed without taking your makeup off. And, you cannot expect anyone to love you the way you deserve, the way you want to be loved, if you cannot love yourself first. I know how corny and obvious this sounds, but I am amazed how people try to bypass that very simple, yet essential rule of the universe. Self-love isn’t something you can fake with diets, expensive shopping habits, a relationship or a few face masks a week. Whatever blocks and resistances you refuse to face, whatever beliefs you have come to develop about yourself, will without a doubt manifest themselves into your current relationship, for better or worse. Get to know yourself independently of the people in your life. Accept and forgive whatever invisible grudges on yourself you may have accumulated over the years and understand that you are whole, all on your own.

.YOU HAVE TO WATCH THIS.

I was at a friend’s party the other day and the following conversation occurred:

A friend (AF): Have you been watching ….. TV show?

Me: Nope, I don’t watch a lot of series.

AF: Oh, my gosh, you have to. We are so addicted, Wait, you are kidding – you haven’t??? You would love it!!!! Michael, how far in are are you and Julia? Are you all caught up? I am dyyyyyying to hear what you thought of the recent episode when the Secondary Character and the Main Character finally made out!!! Sorry, Daniela, you don’t know what we are talking about but you really would love this show. I, like, kind of want to send you home to watch it. Let’s check out the pilot and trailer now. I would totally watch the entire season again. Chris, can you put it on? Thanks, babe. Here, Daniela, take the best seat. I want you to have a good view and this chair is the best spot. The last time, when Chris started it, he was like, “YOU have to watch this, “but I didn’t get into it at first, even though everyone in the room said they loved it. You really have to stick with it. The first three episodes kind of suck but you have to stick with it. Don’t walk out of the room to get things out of the kitchen or something. Don’t do laundry. YOU HAVE TO SEE THE WHOLE THING. Right Michael? That’s what I was going to say! It picks up around the fourth or fifth episode after they kill off the character everybody thought was going to be the main character in the next season.

Me: Okay. [They turn on Season 1, Episode 1]

AF: [Five minutes into Season 1, Episode 1]. Okay, so, I know that right now it is hard to keep all the characters straight, but they develop so much it is amazing. It is amazing to see that the main character’s sister hooks up with the character who the main character used to date years ago. Then she got pregnant and OHMYGOD. You won’t believe it – they now work together. They have a really cool dynamic that you will feel when you watch the entire season. Then Nick gets introduced to her at the bar. Then things will spice up again. Insane. He is so dumb, too. Not that that matters but I mean it is weird because she is actually in love with Mitch.

Me: Okay. [Sipping on my wine while looking for my phone in my purse]

AF: G-SUS, DANIELA! WHY ARE YOU LOOKING AT YOUR PHONE? Sorry, I didn’t mean to yell but I don’t want you to miss anything. You have to watch eight seasons and 24 episodes each. Isn’t that awesome hahaha? We can watch some tonight!

Me: Thinking if it is possible to fake a sudden blindness #readthebookblindnessbyJoséSaragamo

AF: Wait, Chris, my love, did you see that? When we first saw it you didn’t think of the controversial episode? Yeah when we first saw it, we couldn’t decide either. Like, the entire time I kept asking myself, WHY am I watching this garbage but it is so catching and we are so desensitized to violence, but this is how it was throughout that time I guess. I saw that a lot of the critics were saying it was gratuitous, however, I don’t really agree. I think they actually ask us the really hard questions with this show. Like the questions that go to the bottom of things. Like deep. Daniela? Why are you getting up? You aren’t feeling comfortable? I am not letting you leave until we get through the first episode at least.

Me: I just wanted to get another glass of wine from the kitchen. [Thinking about how to escape]

AF: Wait, Daniela, don’t get up. Chris,l can open another bottle of wine if we all want some. Yes? Everyone? Michael, let’s do the Merlot. Everybody wants to watch the show now, right? You know, I have read that this is actually what professional acting is all about. There was a thing in The New York Times about how they observed how the actors on the show lived their private life. Hey Chris, babe, can you grab the Nachos while you are in the kitchen? I SAID, CAN YOU GRAB THE – yep, those. Thanks!

Me: ……[thinking: I don’t want to be here anymore]

AF: I just love destroyed female characters with insomnia. How they are depicted in the show is amazing. You guys like the wine and nachos? Arent’s those good? We just found this “wine guy” who occasionally travels to France and brings back the best Merlot. Anyway, we have another case in the basement. Yeah, Chris, no, I know what you are going to say, but the treatment of women characters in the show isn’t as bad as on “that other show”. Chris and I loved that one, too, even though it is kind of our guilty pleasure for a Sunday evening.

Me: I am tired. It was a rough day. I think I will go home.

AF: Really? Don’t you think the humor is really great and smart? Not everyone gets it right away but it is actually, like, laugh-out-loud funny so many times. I read somewhere that the director was really influenced by The Sopranos and I think I can really feel that, too. Chris and I usually get into fights all the times about patriarch characters. Well, not a fight but rather a discussion or argument. We barely fight. Haha. But I hated him when he said that the main character was “not complicated, and was ultimately doing the right thing in the relationship but his girlfriend would never shut up and narrate and just regurgitate garbage that makes no sense and blow things completely out of proportion”. I was like, Chris, it is not that easy. Keep in mind that the main character really wanted to relax about the entire situation if her partner would have been more of a family person. Then she decided to get a divorce because he chose to go on a Safari to Nairobi to relax.

Me: …..sigh

Michael and his girlfriend: I think my girlfriend and I are tired, too and we will leave now.

AF: Nooooooo, you guys all have to stay. The entire show is like that. The writing is so good, the conversations are epic. You just have to go with the flow. Chris, more Nachos and wine, please. Don’t you see the bowls are empty? G-sus, I am telling you guys, sometimes I would love to kill him, too. [laughs] Michael and Julia: Sh…..h………! No talking, guys. This part is so great. Michael, can you actually stuff a handkerchief in Julia’s mouth and add some duct tape? Hahhaha, just kidding. Anybody wants more Merlot?

.Clichés.

Google defines cliché as “a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought,” which is why starting this piece with a definition makes me want to fire myself. I have a lot of opinions about clichés in that I believe most are objectively bad, many are annoyingly true, and a few are real diamonds in the rough. In this piece, I want to get into clichéd language. The topic of cliches has been on my mind since I read about the project The Afterglow; a totally charming exploration of still-operational New York institutions, places, and people.

It got me thinking about what I would want to write about if I contributed, and after a couple of days I realized that most of my ideas had a lot to do with, of course, language. As a writer, I love to listen to people and this is why I write at a café or bar because these are places for great observations.

Every place offers its own classic scenario: from local families celebrating birthdays, to financial meetings to a couple slurping spaghetti with meat sauce while the wife stares sadly in the middle distance looking for the exit sign. Maybe these people have constructed an airtight facade to protect themselves from questions or simply to advertise some message about what they would love to talk about if someone would stop and listen. Maybe they are just lonely. But, if you label someone a cliché, it does not mean you are right, or particularly perceptive. It means you have not bothered to do the work of finding out what lies deeper.

“They are not clichés, they are hard-barked people in retreat from the sweetness of their souls” – Amy Hempel

Writing is usually a lonely pursuit, and clichés are the brief moments during which our need to be unique is trumped by our need to be understood. After all, I am not a linguist right, right? – elbow into the side to make sure we are all on the same page here. I am sitting at a restaurant with a glass of Chinati and octopus fusilli, and clichés are exactly what I am into and all around me. Let’s unpack some word clichés that are my favorite while I order my second glass.

“Can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Yes, you can but what is better than an old dog? Tricks are for show-offs anyway. But in any case, this cliché works well when my nephew tries to teach me how to use Snapchat.

“Don’t go to bed angry.” I think this is a mediocre cliché because as advice, it sucks. Not because it does not contain some valuable advice, but when that advice does not suit the situation, valuable sleep is lost at the hands of something inconsequential. Like when it is 11.30 pm and a male friend tells me that The Notebook is his favourite movie of all times.

“Time flies when you are having fun.” I think this cliché is just plain truth but rude and fails for displeasing me on a personal level.

“He is a bad egg.” A fun and useful cliché indeed. What’s a more visceral metaphor than a single egg cracked in a carton of otherwise perfectly smooth ones? I think this cliché does a lot of work in four words, with the additive charm of comparing people to eggs. I know some bad eggs.

“Sitting around with my thumb up my ass.” Isn’t this a nightmare and truely the worst cliché? Please don’t make me think about your thumb lodged in your rectum. It is also very okay to just say you were simply doing nothing.

“See the forest for the trees.” I use this cliché a lot with my son and every time I say it I trip up on the word “for” because my (German) mouth wants to say “through” which makes no sense. I looked up the etymology and it apparently dates back to the 16th century when some guy named Haywood wrote: “Plentie is nodeintie, ye see not your owne ease. I see, ye can not see the wood for trees.” (Sigh). Per this website, this expression could be read as, “Cannot see the forest because of the trees, “which might be the first time I have acutally understood it.

I am done with my wine and pasta. I want my cake and eat it too but I don’t drink like a fish or go bananas because I am cool like a cucumber. This is why I am going home now because I still have bigger fish to fry. Make sure you take all this with a grain of salt.

.Litte Fires Everywhere.

I love lists. Writing them has something satisfying so I will share one of my latest ones here with you but first something pretty big happened in my life the other day which will push me in a new direction. I have always been a person who embraces life and rolls with its punches but the last year and trip around the sun was a rather difficult one for me to swallow. This summer especially has been an interesting, albeit emotional, yet somewhat beautiful season for my son and I but now it is time to move in a new direction.

When I decided to move back to Germany it was one of the greatest birthday gifts I could have given myself. I spent my days walking, meeting friends, popping into my favorite bookstore and discovering new ones. I spent my time reading and soaking up the sun whenever I got a chance. I had no expectations, nowhere to be, and no commitments in place even though my brain worked, in a seemingly relaxed stage, to figure things out for the future. Does this sound like a dream to you? It truly felt like one. This time away from Canada helped me settle much of my pain, stress, worry-state of mind or whatever that was and pushed me forward to say: bring it on, I am ready! Are you curious what else I did? I am learning a new language and will publish my second book in a week or two. Superwoman with superpowers? You bet!

And here is my latest survival list for you if you would like to read:

  1. Mental clarity: Drink a lot of water. Get sun. Practise Yoga. Be nice to the neighbors. Cook from home as often as possible. Read and buy more books. Take care of your skin and go to bed early.
  2. Work hard. Play hard. Work harder. Play harder. In that exact order.
  3. Do things that scare you and make you step out of your comfort zone because this is how you grow.
  4. Whenever in doubt, throw on jeans, a white t-shirt, and TOMS shoes. Done.
  5. Take your time. Relax.
  6. Always go with your guts!
  7. Choose your friends wisely. Surround yourself with people who make you happy.
  8. Singing and dancing to your favorite song will cure any bad mood.
  9. Do not wear too much make-up. It will dry out your skin.
  10. It is okay to admit that you are wrong.
  11. Educate yourself. Pay attention to what is going on in the world around you and form educated opinions. Help others. Donate your time. Sign up for programs at universities.
  12. A hangover is not really worth it but sometimes the party is just too good.
  13. Don’t compare yourself to others.
  14. Get off your stupid phone, go outside, play and live your life.
  15. Learn how to cook and know at least three delicious recipes by heart.
  16. Wear whatever you damn well please and what makes you happy.
  17. Never rub your eyes after chopping jalapeños.
  18. Call your parents/grandparents and tell them you love them.
  19. Keep in mind that the most interesting thing about you is how you look and stop counting calories. Invest in health and wisdom.
  20. The skeletons from your past made you who you are. Don’t regret.
  21. It does not matter what other people think of you.
  22. Don’t ever piss off people who bring you cold, heat, mail or food.
  23. Every woman should own a vibrator.
  24. Try that thing you are curious about no matter what it may be: a new food, a new style, a new hair color, a new hobby, a new career path.
  25. Always speak to your children the way you would like to be spoken to.
  26. Fall down, get up, move on. Rinse, lather, but don’t necessarily repeat.
  27. Live debt-free. The feeling is amazing.
  28. Find the humor in the situation.
  29. Focus on your values instead of your fears.
  30. Accept the past, but fight for the future.

.Thoughts on Separation and Divorce.

“When someone tells me they are getting a divorce, I say, ‘CONGRATULATIONS!’ If you’re doing it, I guess you needed it. It was the best thing that could have happened to me. The best thing that could have happened for my kids. And the best thing that could have happened to my ex. Everyone in my family became who they needed to be from this situation. We all became the heroes of our own journey.” – Eat Pray Love

Many of my readers have noticed that I am divorced. It is not a secret. I do not think it is fair to my ex to discuss specifics on the internet. I also wanted to wait until the divorce was finalized to let my readers know about it here. I want to write this post because many of you have followed our lives from the beginning and because I know some of my friends are going through separations and divorces.

I want to write this post in a way so it may help other women who are going through the same decision-making process. Keep in mind that is is not worth it to spend your life with someone who you don’t love and who doesn’t make you happy for any reason, emotional, financial, kids, cheater, abusive relationship etc.

First of all, no decision to separate a marriage or a long term relationship is easy. And I have to admit that I agonized over it for quite some time but certain things that happened pointed me in that direction that it is the best for myself and my son. While it was a very hard decision, I have to say I have not been this happy with my life for a very long time. It is hard, and it is frustrating at times, but I have a free, happy feeling inside of me that I haven’t felt in years. And it certainly gets projected onto my son.

“Neither of us is happy but neither of us wants to leave so we keep breaking one another and calling it love” – Rumi Kaur

For me, the realization that I was not happy in my marriage came on slowly. I did not know or rather did not want to see what was wrong at first. I felt like I was trapped with no way out and simply unhappy and I wanted something more; something different. It took me months to understand what I was feeling and what it was connected to. And then more time to make a solid decision that I didn’t want to go back and forth anymore. Again, I don’t want to discuss the whys here because it would not be fair to my son’s father. However, the decision felt right. I learned that there is a huge difference between someone telling you they love you and them actually loving you.

At this point in my life, I do not blame anyone and just feel it was for the better. I realized that what I needed to grow and to be a better person and to achieve something in my life wasn’t what I had or what I wanted anymore. Too many things have happened. But in a divorce, especially whenever children are involved, it is important to at least try to agree and stay amicable about everything.

I know that many women out there feel/felt trapped, unhappy with the person they are with, confused and not sure if there is a way out. I felt all those things for a long time until I started making my way out. Sometimes two people just have to separate and move on. For their own sake, for the sake of the child(ren). In some cases, I know that sometimes happy parents apart are better than lifeless, angry parents together.

Wouldn’t you rather be alone instead of being with someone who does not love you or give you what you need? Take your time, listen to your feelings and prepare for your new life. When people found out that my ex and I separated, they were so confused because we seemed so happy together and indeed we were for many years. But in the last years, there was a deep-seated feeling that something was off and it just grew and grew. Things change, people change, feelings change. In my case, this change is a good chance to newfound independence.

.I don’t know.

A friend told me the other day, “It seems like you always know what is right. You are so strong and you will figure things out in the end.” It seems like it, dear friend, but I do not always know either. Of course, I don’t have the answer to everything but I can admit that. Half of the time I sit down and draw a complete blank but I love feeling my way in the dark, grasping into the void for the things that make sense to me. And I love to look back on difficult times in my life when I felt I did not know anything and remembering what that felt like. Someone whom I love very much said to me, “You just told me what you think. Now tell me how you fell.” The closest thing that felt like feelings to me were more like longings: I wanted a cottage at the lake and watch the sunset. I wanted to sip a beer at the fireplace while sitting in a comfortable lounge chair. I wanted to be surrounded by beautiful things and most importantly, I wanted to be loved.

I had many friends who I liked and a job I liked most of the time. I used to say that I felt grateful for my job, but I didn’t feel grateful. I just knew I should feel grateful for it. I had boyfriends who were nice; I thought I was probably lucky to have them. I didn’t always feel lucky, though. So I got a new boyfriend, and I felt a little luckier, but I still didn’t really know what love is.

I never really know what the future holds for me but I can predict it to some extent. At some point, I wanted a house. Then I wanted a child, then I wanted to get married but just having a child and getting married sounded pretty horrible. I loved some of my boyfriends, I really did but I never thought they can make good husbands or fathers to my child. Actually, being their girlfriend sounded pretty terrible, too. But maybe I was just too negative. I just wasn’t sure. My gut told me no. My problem was that I felt plenty of things but never really trusted my own feelings to guide me. Asking an ex too many questions would mean an argument so it was easier to say nothing because that way at least I would feel safe and secure and nothing would have to change. But this just led to me not trusting myself, because I was mad for not bringing up the subjects that bothered me the most. I also learned not to give myself a hard time about every goddamn thing under the sun. I just think, “I am here, trying. I am a person who tries my best. I do what I fucking can. It is okay to just try.” I teach my son the same.

When I started to accept all this, I was initially overcome with feelings. I sometimes burst into tears but this is a beautiful thing. I thought, ” I am feeling really sad right now, and weak, and beat, and lost, and that is not just okay; it is good. It is exactly how I need to feel in this moment and the sadness does not make me weak. I just find my way in the dark.”

Uncertainty and vulnerability are the guides through this life we are all living. It is a good thing because leaning into not knowing will bring more knowledge and wisdom and understanding than I ever dreamed of. Being truthful and open and honest with yourself means letting in those scary emotions and noticing the angry self-talk and embracing all of it.

What does not feeling and excepting your feelings lead to? It throws you into a defensive, self-attacking stance which sucks because you are miserable, angry and uncomfortable with your own self. This in combination with negative self-talk and powering down of emotions is toxic and can lead to depression.

So, I follow my uncertainty and fear into the darkness, I accept that the darkness will always be a part of me. I am just a person who does not know all the answers and I don’t know what the future will bring but I can close my eyes anytime to feel how good it is to be alive, how good it feels just to breathe. Life is not about knowing but about feeling your way through the dark. I don’t say, “this should be lighter by now, ” because this means I am shutting myself off from my own happiness. I let the darkness be present even if this means that I have to get on my knees to crawl through it. Then I say, “Holy s*** it is dark but look at me crawling. I can crawl like a motherfucker.”

.When in Doubt, Rent a Pedal Boat – It is Fun.

I am writing this from the kitchen table. It is 9am, around 25 degrees celsius and looks like we are in for yet another classic summer day. Note that I am not complaining. I enjoy the summer. I enjoy the change. I enjoy Germany. The weather is similar to what I would be experiencing in Canada. I have been in Germany for two weeks now, and it’s taken that long to feel like I can settle in. That’s nothing good or bad. I needed this time to continue to map out my next steps. Because I grew up here and have been home many times throughout the years, I assumed I would be able to quickly settle into a routine of writing, going for long walks, working out, cooking, meeting all my friends but it turned out that it is not as simple as I wanted it to be.

Within two weeks of being here, I reconnected with someone I met many years ago and our first conversation quickly opened my eyes and shifted one of my priorities. At the same time, it only took one trip to the grocery store and bakery for me to be faced with the truth: Food tastes so much better here and is a lot cheaper. I feel healthier and more comfortable already.

Before I left Germany many years ago, I had coffee with an old friend. When we said goodbye, she hugged me and whispered, “you know you are going to come back changed, right?” This hit me hard, and at that moment it felt like the most honest thing someone had ever said to me. I nodded, and one month later after, I confirmed that she was right. But it is also true that I changed even before I left but I just didn’t know it, until I returned to somewhere I had been before and saw it with new eyes. You know this feeling when you return home from a two-week vacation? Well, try years. I left Germany in 2005 and never regretted the experience of traveling the world.

Anyway, I still have not dug deep enough into those new thoughts and feelings yet to make more sense of them or figure out what is next for me but writing all this down makes me feel good and at ease. The last three years in Canada were good at first, then really bad, then good again but I know I had to leave. There was nothing left for me even though I wish things would have been different. There are days when I wake up and I want to go back because I miss my “family”, friends and all those beautiful experiences and memories. But I know it would not be good at this point in my life. I need to take a different route this time. More adventures to come. Ha!

I compiled a list of 30 thoughts that I would like to share from my first 14 days away.

  1. Sometimes meeting someone one time is good enough. I should leave the memory at that.
  2. I can change a lot in two weeks.
  3. My values can change a lot, too.
  4. The people I can sit in silence with, or quietly read books together with, are special. It is strange how being silent with someone can actually be more memorable than forcing my way through a conversation.
  5. It feels weird when people say they really miss me and don’t talk to me for days. Cannot be that bad then.
  6. It also feels weird that a very close friend won’t read my book or blog.
  7. When I meet someone unexpectantly whom I haven’t seen in ages, it is awesome to make plans and meet the next day.
  8. If I don’t ask, the answer is always no.
  9. There are those who understand and those who never will. I don’t try to force the latter. It is okay if only a few people really understand. It is a gift to have even one.
  10. I don’t owe anyone an interaction.
  11. Being a beginner sucks most of the time until I am no longer a beginner. When I start to see the early signs of my efforts paying off, I am glad I tried something new.
  12. Teaching my son, watching him grow up and adapting to new situations is awesome.
  13. Being self-aware is exhausting sometimes but it is also a gift for myself and everyone who comes into my life.
  14. I love to show my son things I enjoyed as a child when I grew up here.
  15. I now move at the pace that feels natural to me.
  16. I treat everyone I meet like an old friend.
  17. Rejection is not about me. Even if it seems like it is, it is really not.
  18. A breakup or divorce is not the worst thing I have been through. I have survived worse.
  19. The kindest thing I can do is to let someone go on their own journey, even if it does not include me.
  20. I love to tell people what positive impact they have had on me.
  21. I learned that it is important to put myself in someone else’s shoes.
  22. I live according to my values and won’t tolerate bullshit anymore!
  23. If someone would ask me to go on an adventure, I would not ask too many questions. I would say yes, pack (my son), and go.
  24. The state of my space is the state of my mind.
  25. Decluttering is just a tool. I needed to dig up the root(s) cause, so it wouldn’t keep spreading and I have to clean the mess again.
  26. Nothing matters more than the health of myself and my loved ones.
  27. When it comes to big and tough decisions, I take my ego out of the equation and ask myself what I should do.
  28. When in doubt, I rent a pedal boat with my son. It is so much fun.
  29. When in doubt, I go for a long run. Fresh air clears my mind.
  30. Things will always work out in the end. And if they don’t, it is not the end.

.As a Writer.

As a writer, it is normal to be drawn to the written word, to daydream and to write down sentences that begin with the phrase: “as a writer”. These days, my fantasies center around the publication of my second book and what book cover to use. Of course, as a writer, one of my favorite authors is Patti Smith.

Patti’s book Just Kids has become a staple in every hipster-aesthete’s literary arsenal just because the cover is so goddamn awesome. As a writer, I have often pondered what makes a successful book cover these days, especially in the age of e-books and Audible. Would Daniela Henry’s book Sometimes Raw been such a hit without this cover?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 71AAfBgAYL.jpg

“The real marrow of what makes a great cover is looking at an image and it being able to project out the abstract but important ideas or story that book is trying to convey, “explained Abigail Bergstrom, Head of Publishing Gleam Futures. “A lot of my authors have existing communities, so they have a real instinct and intuition on who’s going to buy the book,” she continued. This increase in agency among authors is reflected in their covers. “I think in the non-fiction space it’s very type-led, especially on issues of gender and women’s voices. They’re being taken seriously in the way that they should be and maybe haven’t in the past. Their covers are looking more authoritative — that’s a word I hear a lot of my authors say — they want to look authoritative. Less millennial pink, more authority.”

Bergstrom says that e-book sales have now plateaued, hinting that people still desire the physical object over its digital counterpart. I totally agree with this. People rarely post pictures of their Kindle book and a cup of coffee on Instagram for example. A book is a symbolic object which makes the picture so much more significant. Holding it, smelling it…. You get my point.

So, what draws you to a book? The cover for one because it speaks volumes about not only the content but how we choose to represent ourselves. How do I choose a design? “Really, it’s not about designing a cover that works for Instagram, it’s about designing a cover that’s going to be saleable through the internet,” explains Bergstrom. “Things like thumbnails on Audible — if you’ve got a cover that has really intricate tiny drawings, that’s not going to speak to the reader.” I heard stories from my writer-colleagues who had fights with their publishers over their cover design. How come? “The tug and war of the creative process is helpful,” says Bergstrom. “It really brings to light the positioning of the book and who it’s for…it’s good to have that ironed out and focused so that everybody’s on the same page before we enter the stage of comms and marketing the book.” For me, it is hard to find a suitable cover. Why? Because there is no specific formula for guaranteeing a cover’s success. “A successful book cover properly captures the tone of the book,” says Joan Wong, book designer. “To me, it’s not so much about making sure the book sells as much as it is about doing right by the writing.”

As a writer, I have to tell you that writing a book is not easy. It is hard work but I love it. I also have to tell you that I am in the final stages and just sent my second manuscript to a publisher. I love it at the moment and then I hate it in others and finally, I get used to it. After finishing a book, often an emptiness results and I write nothing. But I have found it is important to just be patient and go about my business and unexpectedly it will happen again. I know it always does. I will sit down again and begin the next book. This way I am never discouraged.

It does not matter if your dreams come true and you do get published, if agents swoon and audiences cheer. Trust me on this: It truly does not matter! What matters is the feeling that you are writing, every day. What matters is the work, diving in, feeling your way in the dark, finding the words, trusting yourself, embracing your weird (german) voice, celebrating your quirks on the page and believing in all of it. What matters is you, all alone on your desk, your favorite place to write, a place where you know who you are and what you are meant to accomplish in this life. Realize that it all depends on you. If you don’t want it, then to hell with it. Reach for what you love with abandon, with hope in your heart, with fragility, without knowing exactly what comes next. Reach and never stop reaching.

One last piece of advice. Whenever you feed your soul and truly savor what you do with your time, it makes it much more likely that your big dreams will come true. Now write and don’t judge the book by its cover.